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Adams Morgan Will Create More Affordable Housing, Improve Retail, and More

There is a vision to improve the Adams Morgan neighborhood with a variety of goals that include increasing the number of affordable units, green spaces, and public art. In a 32-page report released by the D.C. Office of Planning earlier this week, the 17 goals therein covered everything from retail to sustainability to pedestrian access to "strengthening identity through arts history and culture." Borderstan reported that the report, titled "Adams Morgan Vision Framework," took a year to form. The action plan does not make any indication as to what the costs would be to complete all of the goals therein.

Community members, business owners, historians, and elected officials formed an Advisory Committee to create the Adams Morgan Vision Framework. In the action plan, it states that the catalyst for creating the document was the activism of Adams Morgan residents and civic organizations who requested Washington, D.C. complete a planning analysis and neighborhood roadmap in order to improve the area. Public forums conducted in 2012 contributed to the action plan, organized by Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1C in a community-based effort called "Envision Adams Morgan." Public input was also gained from a neighborhood walking tour, half-day community workshop, three community office hours events, online engagement forum, direct canvassing, and through the project website.

Until December 8, Joshua Silver, the D.C. Office of Planning Ward 1 neighborhood planner, will accept public comments via email on the Vision Framework. If interested in checking out the Adams Morgan Vision Framework, you can read through the document online here, or you can see a few images from the document in the below gallery.

Above, you can see a map of what areas of Adams Morgan the Vision Framework covers.

Adams Morgan currently does not have a public area that serves as a central community gathering space. The Vision Framework identifies the intersection of 18th Street NW and Columbia Road NW as "the heart of the neighborhood" and the primary point of entry to the commercial corridor. Currently, the site is devoid of green space and seating, and most of the space is privately owned. The plan is to transform the space into a flexible plaza that will host year-round neighborhood activities. The document also addresses commercial alleys as points of interest for additional green spaces.

There are recommendations to redefine Unity Park as a multicultural park through events and programming. By doing so, major emphasis will be placed on Adams Morgan's history as one of Washington, D.C.'s most diverse neighborhoods. The Vision Framework asks for a new park design that is "culturally sensitive and age-friendly," that features public artwork, and that comes with an outdoor food service.

According to the Vision Framework, Adams Morgan has a reputation for "customer-generated nuisance" and conflict between its residents and retailers. The Vision Framework further describes the patrons that visit the neighborhood as "fickle" with most coming from inside the immediate neighborhood. Additionally, 456,000-square-feet of the neighborhood's retail has difficulty sustaining retailers with a 9 percent vacancy rate (two times more than a "healthy" rate) and 9 percent of storefronts occupied by non-retail uses. In order to develop Adams Morgan's into a respectable retail district that can compete with neighborhoods like U Street and H Street, the action plan calls for recognizing the neighborhood's four retail nodes as independent subdistricts. These nodes include Florida Avenue, 18th Street, and the eastern and western sides of Columbia Road split by 18th Street. There are also plans to improve communication between retailers with "merchant committees," a resident and retailer stakeholder group, an online forum and paper survey, and workshops like "Good Signage 101." Businesses owned and operated by Hispanics, Asians, and African Americans will also undergo a "small business boot camp" that will provide counseling and advisement assistance. Finally, a waste management plan will be developed, while refrigerated dumpsters and solar trash compactor facilities will be provided for interested businesses and locations.

One goal in the Vision Framework is the strengthening of the neighborhood's identity by promoting its art, history, and culture. Community gathering spaces will also be focused on in order to create flexible plaza spaces in the area. One community gathering space addressed is the SunTrust Bank plaza at 18th Street NW and Columbia Road NW. A community garden program is also proposed along with the enhancement of underutilized triangle parks. (The rendering above displays how the enhancement of triangle parks is envisioned.) In order to curb gentrification, there are plans to increase the number of affordable housing units. Additionally, the action plan calls upon preserving the "architectural character" of the neighborhood by having new construction and additions reflect the nearby housing stock. To further cultivate the arts community, more public art will be commissioned, and there will be increased collaboration with and support existing community-based arts organizations, such as the D.C. Arts Center. Neighborhood-level cultural activities will also be developed. The Marie Reed Education Campus will also complete modernization with safety-enhanced landscaping and lighting, improvements in sustainability, and a better streetscape presence through prominent signage on both 18th Street NW and Champlain Street NW. Final plans include adding signage to create gateways (e.g., "Welcome to Adams Morgan"); establishing a neighborhood way-finding system in order to help residents and visitors become familiar with nearby amenities, retail establishments, and community facilities; establishing a direct pedestrian/bicycle connection to the Zoo; improving communication between residents and police officers; and conducting a "Safe Streets Audit" to identify safety issues in the neighborhood.

Currently, Adams Morgan has more than 16 individual solar arrays, 20 LEED certified buildings, and multiple green roofs. There are also seven Capital Bikeshare stations, a farmers market, and a community garden in Kalorama Park. In order to make the neighborhood even more sustainable, the Vision Framework calls for a "Green Task Force," composed of community members who will work towards developing ideas on how to enhance sustainability and improve public facilities like the Marie Reed Elementary School. One proposal in the action plan is to form a sustainability task force. The plan also calls for coordination with the Urban Forestry Administration to fill gaps in the street tree canopy. In order to expand Adams Morgan's public recycling program, there will be collaboration with the District's Great Streets program, DPW, and or Business Improvement District (BID). Lastly, the Vision Framework calls for a community compost drop off site and high performing roofs (e.g., solar, green, etc.) on at least 25 percent of residential and commercial properties.

· Office of Planning Releases A Future Vision for Adams Morgan [DCist]

· Future Adams Morgan May Have More Green Space, Compost Site [Borderstan]
· Adams Morgan Vision Framework [D.C. Office of Planning]